Anyone who has played tennis, for even a short period of time, knows full well that tennis is a very mental game.

Here are some common areas where we see players, at all levels, falling short on the mental toughness scale:

  • Losing a match after being up by a large margin
  • Choking at pivotal moments
  • Losing to players who are at a distinct lower level, yet playing better against players who you perceive as “better”
  • Losing the first set at the speed of sound and not being able to regain control
  • Playing great in practices but never as good in a real match

Being overly affected (at the expense of your match) by the wind, the sun, your opponent, your opponents bad line call- intentional or unintentional (your opponent’s voice, their hair, their skirt –this list could go forever), noise, the court, etc.  The commonality is that these are things that you have no control over.

If you have experienced any of the above phenomena in your tennis playing experience, to a large degree, it is not your physical skills that you need to focus, but rather your mental prowess.

Four ways to develop more mental prowess:

  • Build confidence
  • Frame your mind for success
  • Cultivate a short term memory
  • Use your mental energy wisely

It is all about where you are placing your mental energy. You are the only person who has control over what you think about when you are on the court.  You can use your mental energy to make yourself more or less stressed when you are competing.  Place your mental energy on:

  • The present moment
  • Things you can control: YOURSELF
  • Enjoying the process
  • Keep the pressure low

All of these tools are aimed at allowing you to feel either more or less pressure. The less pressure you put on yourself the better you will perform.  I always used to play great tennis when I was physically sick because when I was ill, I had zero expectations of myself, thus my level of pressure was low. The key is to mentally work yourself into the proper state of mine, whether you are sick or not sick. And remember, at the end of the day we are all going to go home back to our non-tennis lives. As one of my students used to say, “I am just going to go home to clean a toilet whether I win or lose anyway.”  What a great thought to keep the pressure LOW!

-Amy Pazahanick

Learn more about how to take control of your mental prowess through Amy’s Mental Toughness Training.